Husker Football: Ameer Abdullah Needs Heisman-Level Help


A lot of people would like to pin a Superman cape on Husker football running back Ameer Abdullah this season. And why not? He did look pretty super, spinning and juking his way to a phenomenal touchdown run in Nebraska’s 31-24 nail-biter victory against McNeese State.

Even if the cape does fit, is a super hero in pads enough for Nebraska’s offense to best tougher defenses? If Saturday’s squeaker against the Cowboys is any indication, probably not.

This week’s Associated Press Poll backs that assertion up. The Huskers fell out of this week’s AP poll after being ranked No. 19 the week prior. According to the Washington Post, that hasn’t happened since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989.

Saturday’s heart palpitations wouldn’t have even been necessary if Nebraska had done what, by most accounts, it should have and put away its second week FCS opponent early.

Nebraska not only shouldn’t place it’s offensive eggs solely in the Abdullah basket, it probably couldn’t.

Abdullah’s anemic 54 yards on the ground didn’t help matters at all. He is Nebraska’s work horse after all, and a legitimate Heisman contender to boot. How was he unable to over power an FCS defense?

Much of that can be chalked up to the fact that he only toted the rock 17 times, including a single fourth quarter carry. What’s more, Abdullah caught three passes for 99 yards, including his game winner with 20 seconds left.

If he’d gotten more carries, he could have very possibly changed the game and eliminated the need for any fourth quarter heroics. But he didn’t, and even head coach Bo Pelini had to admit, that was a mistake.

"“He’s our best football player,” Pelini said. “We have to make sure we get the ball in his hands.”"

What happens if Abdullah does get the ball in his hands? Well, probably good things. However, there’s such a thing as over doing it. Carrying the ball 17 times isn’t that low of a total for a college running back.

It’s the same number as fellow Big Ten standout Melvin Gordon had in week two, and a lot more than the seven Alabama Heisman hopeful TJ Yeldon got against shared opponent Florida Atlantic.

Nebraska fans still cringe when they think of what could have been had Rex Burkhead not sprained his knee in the 2012 season opener against Southern Miss. Why would the coaching staff want to risk something similar happening to Abdullah by overburdening him with too many carries? Hits do take a toll.

The Big Red not only shouldn’t place it’s offensive eggs solely in No. 8’s basket, it probably couldn’t. Not without better play from it’s offensive line, anyway. Nebraska lost five veterans with 125 starts between them from that unit, and it’s going to take time for the current group to gel as a unit.

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In the mean time, they look pretty pedestrian. Give McNeese State all the credit in the world, they deserve it.

HOWEVER, Nebraska’s offensive line is much deeper and much bigger than McNeese State’s defensive line. There is no excuse for the Cowboys’ stifling suppression of the Husker run game.

If and when the Nebraska offensive line comes into its own, Abdullah just might be good enough to do nearly all of the work for the Big Red offense. He will certainly be a huge part of its success, regardless.

With an offense that includes some very good wide receivers in Jordan Westerkamp and Kenny Bell (not to mention the deep back field behind the Alabama native), Nebraska will probably be a lot more successful if he doesn’t have to be any more than necessary.

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